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Poor Pay?
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BigMikeAbroad



Joined: 12 Jun 2008
Location: US, for now

PostPosted: Tue Jan 22, 2013 1:40 pm    Post subject: Poor Pay? Reply with quote

I don't think people come to Korea for the poor pay, even 2/2.2 million is a decent salary. Think about it.

2.2 Million= 2 million after taxes = $1880 USD x 12 =$22,560

PLUS airfare = $1,800+bonus of $1,800 + $1400 taxes back

+ free apartment ($500 x12) = $34,00 USD.

In order ro make $34,000 a year in New York State, you would need to make about $50,000 a year, which is a pretty decent amount of money to most folks. Add into that the fact that things in Korea are often cheaper and for a lot of people they will save money not paying for gas/car maintenance compared to the generally better mass transit options in Korea.
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comm



Joined: 22 Jun 2010

PostPosted: Tue Jan 22, 2013 4:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Korea is one of the most lucrative places for TEFL in the world (where "Western social behavior" is allowed). Who did you find that said it was 'poor pay'?
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Captain Corea



Joined: 28 Feb 2005
Location: Seoul

PostPosted: Tue Jan 22, 2013 4:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

How is airfare factored into income? It's a relocation subsidy. If you live in NY State, you would not need to relocate.

You already made this post in another thread - I'm not sure why you decided to make it in a new one.

Also, what is 1,400 in taxes back? Are you saying that on the 2.4 million you pay in taxes (according to your numbers), you get 1.6 back?


By your numbers, I'm seeing 22k in salary + 6k in rent subsidies. Looks like 28k in take home - that's not an overly impressive income, IMO - especially when I compare that to my friends back home - educated or not.


BigMikeAbroad wrote:
Add into that the fact that things in Korea are often cheaper and for a lot of people they will save money not paying for gas/car maintenance compared to the generally better mass transit options in Korea.


I also take issue with this. It depends on where you're from "back home", but I don't see tons of deals here. Groceries are not cheaper. Gas is not cheaper (double). Eating out... is a mixed bag. Korean meals may be cheaper - but you often get what you pay for when you go to lower priced places. Public transportation and taxis are way cheaper in Korea.
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Swampfox10mm



Joined: 24 Mar 2011

PostPosted: Tue Jan 22, 2013 4:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Where do these posts come from? I almost find it hard to believe people are so foolish as to buy into the OP's numbers.
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World Traveler



Joined: 29 May 2009

PostPosted: Tue Jan 22, 2013 8:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The OP came to Korea for a stint in 2008. He has not set foot in the country since. The cost of goods and services has increased since then. (But he doesn't know that.) He is currently thinking of coming back. (Maybe he's trying to psyche himself up for it?)
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ewlandon



Joined: 30 Jan 2011
Location: teacher

PostPosted: Tue Jan 22, 2013 8:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I mostly agree with OP. Ignore the actual numbers and think this way.

Can live a comfortable life(eat well and have hobbies/social life) and still have $1000 left over from your paycheck at the end of the month.

No need to pay rent...

In the US you would pay rent 400-1000$ a month depending on location.

To have $1000 in bank at end of month you would probably need to make about $60,000 a year in a city like Seattle or 80,000+ in a city like LA or New York.

If you have a car, or you pay for your own health insurance you would need to make more.
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BigMikeAbroad



Joined: 12 Jun 2008
Location: US, for now

PostPosted: Tue Jan 22, 2013 9:40 pm    Post subject: From the op Reply with quote

This was in no way suppose to be it's in own thread, I somehow submitted it twice and didn't realize it created a new thread.

As for airfare. If I want to travel and decide to teach, many places do not pay for airfare. So including the cost of a round trip trans-pacific in your salary is fare I think.

E2 teachers get their income tax, or part of it, returned when they leave the country.

So $34,000 after taxes or a salary of about $50,000. Not going to make you rich but more than enough to pay bills, live comfortably and save a good chunk.

Groceries may be the same. Cigarettes are cheaper, transportation is cheaper, some food is cheaper. Gas may be more but how many expats drive in Korea?

Feel free to disagree. I spent a year in Seoul and saved around 10 grand. Of that around $4,500 was my final paycheck, severance and returned taxes. That includes loosing a hundred at the casino ever so often, going out a ton and impulsing buying. I wasn't making a point to try to save money.
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World Traveler



Joined: 29 May 2009

PostPosted: Tue Jan 22, 2013 10:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ok man but that was four years ago. Prices have gone up A LOT since then.
Quote:
I've been in Korea for 9 years now, the good times are definitely over. Epic is starting to squeeze teachers and the wages are slowly dropping relative to living costs. 3 years ago I could buy a great meal for two people for 10,000. Now I expect to pay nearly 20,000 for the same meal.
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Captain Corea



Joined: 28 Feb 2005
Location: Seoul

PostPosted: Tue Jan 22, 2013 10:26 pm    Post subject: Re: From the op Reply with quote

BigMikeAbroad wrote:
This was in no way suppose to be it's in own thread, I somehow submitted it twice and didn't realize it created a new thread.

As for airfare. If I want to travel and decide to teach, many places do not pay for airfare. So including the cost of a round trip trans-pacific in your salary is fare I think.

E2 teachers get their income tax, or part of it, returned when they leave the country.

So $34,000 after taxes or a salary of about $50,000. Not going to make you rich but more than enough to pay bills, live comfortably and save a good chunk.

Groceries may be the same. Cigarettes are cheaper, transportation is cheaper, some food is cheaper. Gas may be more but how many expats drive in Korea?

Feel free to disagree. I spent a year in Seoul and saved around 10 grand. Of that around $4,500 was my final paycheck, severance and returned taxes. That includes loosing a hundred at the casino ever so often, going out a ton and impulsing buying. I wasn't making a point to try to save money.


I really don't get some of your logic.

If you are comparing job A to job B... or lifestyle A to lifestyle B - how does a plane ticket factor in? especially when comparing it to your "home" country? I mean, if you were comparing a job offer in Korea to one in China, and only one of them paid for the flight, then sure. But you specifically mentioned NY state - so are you comparing EFL overseas per country, or are you comparing things to "back home"?

E2 teachers can be taxed at different rates, as far as I know - as an employee, or as a sub-contractor. I'm not sure what you're talking about in regards to "getting their taxes back when you leave the country"... other than a basic tax return that you get whether you leave or not. Perhaps you are referring to pension contributions.

Now, if you came here to smoke and drink cheap alcohol, I'd agree with you - it's cheaper here. I don't smoke, nor do I drink, so those mean nothing to me. I do however own a car - so gas prices are (somewhat) important to me.

You list saving 10k in your first year here as an achievement - good for you, man. From the numbers you present, you saved about $500 a month for 11 months, and then took your last paycheck and severance to make up the remainder.

Now, everyone's finance is their own business... but personally, I don't think saving $500 a month is anything impressive. It's TONS compared to those who save nothing, for sure, but as an adult, who is looking at the long term, it doesn't make much of an impression on me. Especially if you do it for one year. ---- what's the long term there? Going to do it for 10 years? 15? After 15 years in korea, and 150k in the bank, are you really that much ahead of "people back home"?

I say this because I KNOW.

I've been here for 11 years, and have nearly 500K in the bank. And ya know what, that doesn't put me very far ahead of my buds back home. Many of them have paid down their mortgages. Many of them make far more than that 50k a year you're talking about. And MOST of them are advancing in their professions.

Now, if someone is looking to make teaching EFL as their career - so be it. But they won't be able to do it for long with the numbers you posted. They'd have to advance. They'd have to hustle. They'd have to work their way up - and that pretty much leaves them in a comparable situation to their peers "back home".
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oppa637



Joined: 05 Dec 2011

PostPosted: Tue Jan 22, 2013 11:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

2 mil a month x 12 = 24mil (after taxes)
500k rent x 12= 6mil
Pension 24 mil x .09 = 2.16 mil
Severance = 2 mil
Total = 34.16 mil / 1150

29,700 USD

If you are thinking entry level / fresh graduate, I think this is a decent amount, especially since there is a low "start up cost"(Things like not worrying about deposit on apartment, most will not own cars). So at the beginning, I don't think its bad. But after a few years, I think the salary increase on state side will increase at quicker rate than here. That being said, pending where you are in your life, this could be decent, or it could be small.

In the end, I don't think it really matters as you have a roof over your head, you have food on the table, and are able to save.
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comm



Joined: 22 Jun 2010

PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 2013 1:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

oppa637 wrote:
If you are thinking entry level / fresh graduate, I think this is a decent amount, especially since there is a low "start up cost"(Things like not worrying about deposit on apartment, most will not own cars). So at the beginning, I don't think its bad.

The key thing is that a combination of factors (such as health insurance, taxes, transportation costs, etc) allow you to bank as much as half that amount, which happens to be my goal on my standard 2nd year GEPIK salary.
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BigMikeAbroad



Joined: 12 Jun 2008
Location: US, for now

PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 2013 5:19 am    Post subject: Thanks Reply with quote

Thanks everyone for your input, especially Captain Corea. I appreciate the point of view of a veteran expat.
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some waygug-in



Joined: 25 Jan 2003

PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 2013 6:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It sounds good and it ain't bad as long as you stay in Korea.

If you return home though, you'll find that you didn't save nearly as much

as you thought you did, and that your money doesn't go nearly as far as

you thought it would, and that moving back and forth costs you in ways

you never expected.
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bucheon bum



Joined: 16 Jan 2003
Location: DC area

PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 2013 1:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

$500/month in rent? Ha, I wish rent were that affordable. Good luck finding that in a large US city. I think double that would be a more accurate estimate.

Also, my take-home pay is 62% of my salary. That's low compared to some states, but higher than others (such as NY, MD, CA).

Plus there is transportation costs. When I lived in Korea, I had to pay very little since I didn't have a car and public transport is relatively cheap. Not needing a car=huge savings.

This was years ago, but when I did similar calcuations (factoring in taxees, transport, apartment, etc), I figured the amount I was making in Korea (1.9 million) was comparable to making $50k/year in the States. Which I guess is the same figure you came to.

Anyway, I'd say one would have to make at least $60K in DC (or NYC, Boston, etc) to match savings and a similar lifestyle as one living in Korea on 2.2 million. $45-50K in more affordable cities.

On the other hand, as CC noted, there is career advancement here along with salary bumps. Pretty stagnant in ESL. Salaries now aren't much different than 10 years ago!
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misher



Joined: 14 Oct 2008

PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 2013 3:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

And unless you're married, have Korean ancestry or just want to do everything illegally, after 5-6 years on the job that 2.2 million won will increase to what? 2.7? Pushing for more will most likely not get your contract renewed seeing that you are limited to one year contracts anyway.

No one is arguing that it isn't a bad deal if you are young and starting out. However there is little to no upward mobility unlike jobs back home if you just stick to your guns.
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